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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth is out there
As Richard Wiseman explains in the introduction, this is an investigation into the psychology behind people's beliefs about the supernatural. For example, why do people believe that dreams can predict the future, that they can communicate with the dead or that tarot cards can predict their destiny? Written in his usual entertaining style, it's highly readable and not at...
Published on March 5, 2011 by Julia Flyte

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Mr. Wiseman's wit, but...
...this book was hardly the deep exploration into the world of the paranormal that it's cover promises. It turned out to be more of a collection of experiments that you can preform at home to prove that your mind can play the odd trick on you, I still pick up it up and page through it from time to time, but if you really want to see the proof that you can't trust your...
Published 16 months ago by Patrick Moore


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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth is out there, March 5, 2011
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As Richard Wiseman explains in the introduction, this is an investigation into the psychology behind people's beliefs about the supernatural. For example, why do people believe that dreams can predict the future, that they can communicate with the dead or that tarot cards can predict their destiny? Written in his usual entertaining style, it's highly readable and not at all scholarly. In short, Wiseman believes that there is a scientific explanation for all supernatural phenomena. He exposes many of the tricks (conscious and unconscious) that allow us to suspend our disbelief, using research studies and anecdotes to illustrate his points.

Reading this book is a participatory experience with a number of experiments and party tricks you can conduct on yourself or your friends as you go along. Weblinks are also given to allow you to view video footage of experiments.

This is a less "quirky" read than his last couple of books, but it does offer many interesting tips such as:
- How to fool people that you have psychic abilities
- How to induce an out of body experience
- How to impress your friends by appearing to bend a spoon
- How to significantly increase your chances of dreaming about somebody
- What to do if you feel you're being attacked by a ghost in bed at night
- How cults indoctrinate people and how to avoid being brainwashed.

I read this book on my Kindle and it wasn't optimal in that format. While all photographs are included, their placement doesn't match the text and there is a table included at one point which lost all of its formatting.

The chapter list indicates the subjects covered in the book:
1. Fortune Telling
2. Out of Body Experiences
3. Mind over Matter
4. Talking with the Dead
5. Ghost Hunting
6. Mind Control
7. Prophecy
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have, April 4, 2011
This review is from: Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (Paperback)
Richard Wiseman's Paranormality is probably one of the best books on critical thinking available. Connecting the dots between supernatural experiences and classic and contemporary research on perception, memory, and social psychology, Wiseman skillfully unravels the superstitious mind and explains how and why we tend to believe all kinds of weird claims. It is not a complete account of everything paranormal - Wiseman focuses on psychics, hauntings, extra sensory perception, and related. But the demarcation is very much in line with what is in the public eye currently, with psychics swarming the yellow pages as well as prime-time television, along with "documentaries" on hauntings, remote-viewers and such. Wiseman's style of writing is commendable and suits the curious first-timer as well as the devoted skeptic. And the latter won't find another rehash of old stuff, but a fresh and inspiring approach with lots of new input worth considering.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and different slant on the science of the 'paranormal', April 18, 2011
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This is an immensely readable and enjoyable book. Richard Wiseman has wisely eschewed the idea of writing a book debunking the paranormal (of which there are plenty already) and instead opted to focus on letting us know HOW it's done, and even how to do it ourselves for the entertainment of family and friends. Wiseman tells his story by focusing on people in history - specific people who have either developed some kind of reputation for being able to achieve paranormal phenomena, or of debunking and exposing them. In this way he gives a book of real substance, which really gets to the nitty-gritty. It's also very entertaining, and included many elements with which I was not familiar (despite have quite a collection of books on this topic and of Wiseman's previous work). An excellent read and very educational.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, engaging, and educational, July 5, 2011
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Wiseman has written a wonderful book about the human mind and the tricks it can play. Even if you think you know it all, you'll find you don't :) I especially loved the optical illusions and psychological tests scattered throughout the book. They were fun and really brought home the points he made.

Wiseman's prose is warm and funny and easy to read and understand. You can tell how much he loves this subject and how much fun he has had conducting research over the years.

I love this book and I only wish I could get a print copy for my non-Kindle-owning father. Please, somebody publish it in the US in print form!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading, July 7, 2011
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Paranormality is an excellent addition to the skeptical library. It covers some of the same ground as the old skeptical classics such as The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions by James Randi, but in a more light-hearted and interactive manner. Professor Wiseman is a psychologist and he shows us not only why things such as ghosts and psychics don't exist, but why we are fooled into thinking they do.

One of the things that makes the book stand out is the large number of experiments and exercises you can do to illustrate Wiseman's points. They are simple but really help the reader understand how the brain works. The book also has QR tags so you can watch videos of interviews and investigations.
A number of topics are covered in addition to psychic powers and ghosts, such as hypnosis, cults, prophesy, out-of-body experiences and seances. I found the chapter on dreaming especially interesting. He deftly interweaves his own investigative experiences with stories of charlatans and their dupes through the years.

Although the book has been a big seller in the U.K., Professor Wiseman has been unable to find an American publisher. This is a shame since there is probably no country more in need of a book like this. Fortunately for those of us in the U.S., he has put the ebook on Amazon so we can read it.

Paranormality is a smart, fun read. In an ideal world, it would be required reading for all high school students. It would surely make us a nation of smarter, less gullible citizens.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skeptical about the skeptic, March 31, 2011
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Sue Lange "Sue Lange" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (Paperback)
What's great about this book is that although Wiseman absolutely does not believe in the paranormal, he isn't preachy about it. He simply describes how various truth seekers have debunked palm readers, ghost hunters, fortune tellers and spoon benders. He gives us the secrets that magicians and charlatans use. It all makes sense and I'm prepared to totally disbelieve paranormality, until I realized that you can look at the evidence he presents just as skeptically as he looks at the evidence for paranormal activity. Take table turning. Sure I can believe the Ouiga Board works on the ideomotor principles, but can a table pin a person against the wall so violently with this method? I find it hard to believe. Information seems to be missing. I need more proof or a better explanation.

If you are already a skeptic, everything here makes sense and you nod easily. But if you are a true believer, you may find some holes in the theories. You'll demand more rigorous evidence.

That's all fine. For me the best thing about the book is his fascinating anecdotes, the stories of the people that witnessed paranormal activity or were in some way psychic. It's great reading. Wiseman draws us in to the truth behind the fiction the same way ghost stories draw us in by their strangeness. And the truth is stranger than the fiction here. The psychological analysis behind the willingness to believe may or may not be accurate, but it, too, is interesting as all get out.

For those who believe the loss of superstition leads to a boring world, Wiseman says "To believe that the findings of supernatural science remove wonder from the world is to fail to see the remarkable events that surround us every day of our lives. And, unlike those who appear to talk with the dead or move objects with the power of their minds, these amazing phenomena are genuine."

There's so much in the world and we know very little about most of it, why do we need the supernatural? Wiseman has theories about that and it's fun to read them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, engaging, and informative, January 4, 2012
By 
Jim Davis (St. Charles, MO USA) - See all my reviews
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I came across this book after listening to Wiseman on the "Monster Talk" podcast. He came across as engaging, witty, and very informative so I thought I would give the book he was promoting a try. I'm glad I did.

Like other skeptical books on the paranormal (in this book only what would be called the "psi" portion of that field) Wiseman points out that there is no widely accepted evidence to support the existence of psi phenomenon. Unlike other books I've read this is only the starting point for Wiseman. Wiseman describes in some detail the psychology and physiology of how the brain works and how and why it can be fooled. It is also fascinating when Wiseman touches on the reasons why the brain may have evolved in such a manner. It was utterly fascinating to learn that the psychology of out of body experiences, for example. Much of this was entirely new to me.

Throughout the book Wiseman has numerous "reader participation" exercises and lessons. These are usually interesting enough even if one doesn't have the proper equipment or people on hand to try them out.

Wiseman is as engaging a writer as he is a speaker. His sense of humor is in fine form and he seems to be having a wonderful time. I sure was.

If one is reading the Kindle edition (like I did) and has a tablet I would recommend reading on the tablet instead of a Kindle proper. Wiseman has links to several videos and audio interviews scattered throughout the book. The tablet makes these easy to jump to. In addition the book has numerous photos and tablets render these better than Kindles. The videos are quite short and reinforce the text nicely. The interviews can be quite lengthy. The only one I would consider "must listen" material is Sue Blackmore describing her out of body experience.

The book is nicely referenced with linked notes. The only quibble I have is that the Kindle for iPad application does not have chapters marked out on the progress bar but that's not the fault of the book.

Highly recommended. Popular science doesn't get much better.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wiseman delivers again, July 8, 2011
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I first heard of Richard Wiseman from his Youtube video of the colour changing card trick. I bought Quirkology because I like to see how our own minds can trick us and things are not always what we expect, and thought his research was interesting. I downloaded the Kindle edition of Paranormality and love it. The insights about why we believe in paranormal ideas like ghosts and psychics helped me answer my own questions about why those things seem to answer some of my questions, but not completely. I wholeheartedly recommend the book for anyone else who has wondered about spirits, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Mr. Wiseman's wit, but..., May 9, 2013
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...this book was hardly the deep exploration into the world of the paranormal that it's cover promises. It turned out to be more of a collection of experiments that you can preform at home to prove that your mind can play the odd trick on you, I still pick up it up and page through it from time to time, but if you really want to see the proof that you can't trust your eyes and your memory to work in tandem al the time, just go on youtube and watch Mr. Wiseman in action. The vids are far more enticing than his book, although the premises for this book should be heeded by everyone (Don't trust what you are pretty sure that you remembered what you saw, or think you felt!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good if You're New to the Subject Matter., August 16, 2011
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Eight Hour Lunch (Salt Lake City, Utah) - See all my reviews
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I just finished reading Paranormality. It's a quick, entertaining read, and I appreciated the digital media integration with the Kindle version. However, if you've you've taken a sociology or psychology course, you'll almost certainly know much of the material before you open the book. I almost gave it three stars for that reason, but if you haven't read this type of book yet, I'm confident you'll enjoy it. Wiseman is a funny, engaging writer, and an amazing lecturer, if you ever have the chance to see him speak. I'll definitely take a look at his other books as well.
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Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There
Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There by Richard Wiseman (Paperback - July 1, 2011)
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